Through its association with OpenCape, a local non-profit organization, CapeNet is designing, building and operating Eastern Massachusetts’ most advanced  broadband network.  Spanning the Eastern and Western Cape, the CapeNet network is a hybrid fiber microwave system designed for maximum reliability.

CapeNet is designed on the latest in Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) equipment and built with sub-second failover capabilities, ensuring customers are always connected.  All services sold by CapeNet ride this fault-tolerant, fully redundant backbone network.


The CapeNet Network

The CapeNet network will consist of a core fiber backbone of approximately 290 miles on Cape Cod with extensions to two major regional network connection centers, numerous fiber optic laterals of approximately 40 miles which branch off of the backbone and the backbone extensions, a high capacity optical transport system, a microwave radio overlay for backup and emergency services, and the OpenCape Regional Collocation Center, which will be integrated with the network.  Included in the network will be 71 government, educational and research institutions (“Anchor Institutions”) and 11 points of presence (POP).

The core fiber backbone will be constructed as two interconnected 144 strand fiber rings covering most of Cape Cod with backbone extensions to Provincetown, Woods Hole, Brockton, and Providence. The rings and extensions are sized to provide a commercially reasonable optical distance to the centrally located OpenCape Collocation Facility, to a central office (CO) or the major interconnection POP in Brockton and Providence.

The Cape Cod Canal will be crossed in two geographically separated locations to minimize the chance that Cape Cod will be cut off from network services: the Railroad Bridge at the south end of the Cape Cod Canal and underneath the Canal at the north end.  These crossings remain subject to final permitting by the Army Corps of Engineers.  An alternative crossing at the north end of the canal will be via existing conduit on the Sagamore Bridge.

The third major extension will be a 72 fiber strand cable run from the fiber backbone core of the OpenCape system in Orleans up the length of the outer Cape to Provincetown. Research shows that it is not practical to install a fiber loop in this region because there would be too little physical separation between cables to provide effective protection in the event of a major storm. A high-speed microware radio link will serve as a backup network connection on the outer Cape and along the length of the Cape Cod backbone.

In addition to this backbone extension, a 72 fiber strand loop will be constructed to Woods Hole and another to Chatham. The Woods Hole loop will be comprised of a new fiber run from Falmouth to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, where it will interconnect with an existing Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions fiber system. The Chatham fiber loop will run from the backbone fiber core to Chatham center and back to the backbone fiber core.

Laterals will be constructed from the network core and extensions to service locations as needed. The laterals will include 12, 24 or 48 strands but will typically be 24 strands to Anchor Institutions and 48 strands at high density service areas like Otis Air Force Base, and interconnection points such as the Truro National Seashore lateral on the Outer Cape.  The number of fibers installed for each lateral will vary depending upon anticipated need at each location and the immediate surrounding area.

There will be two major fiber optic cable backbone extensions reaching from the Cape Cod Canal to regional network access locations in Brockton and Providence. One will run from the Cape Cod Canal through Plymouth to Brockton, MA. The other will go from Cape Cod through New Bedford and Fall River to Providence, RI. Both of these backbone extensions will pass major population centers, educational institutions, important industrial areas, key central offices, and finally terminate at 65 Crescent Street in Brockton and 275 Promenade Street in Providence. Further service will be available to New York, NY from Providence, RI and to Boston from the Brockton, MA location.

The microwave wireless component of the OpenCape system is integral to, but designed to operate independently of, the fiber network.  It will serve primarily as an emergency backup for the fiber optic system, with a priority toward supporting public safety and public service activities.  On the Outer Cape it will provide redundancy to the fiber network. It will provide the primary service link to Martha’s Vineyard.  It will consist of 12 towers, 12 fiber strands that will connect the towers to the fiber network, and the required throughput of each link. The antennas will largely be mounted on water towers in order to increase survivability. The Providence Town, Martha’s Vineyard, and Penikese Island microwave locations are to be determined.

The microwave radios will provide point-to-point links, operating at data rates from 100 to 1200 Mbps, using carrier grade radios and licensed spectrum. The microwave system will give priority to public safety and public service, and service level agreements (SLA)s will include provisions that will allow the preemption of non-critical traffic during times of crisis to emergency service needs.  Various network states (emergency, alert and ambient) and transition methods are required. A 700 MHz mobile public safety communications system will be constructed under a separate Open Cape RFP, but its integration will be included in the design of the microwave overlay.

The OpenCape network will be robust and expandable at several levels. The lowest or physical layer of the network will be designed to have redundant and diverse fiber paths wherever economically and geographically feasible. Microware radio links will supplement the fiber and provide redundancy where geographically diverse fiber paths are not possible. 

The electro-optical communications layer of the network will take full advantage of these physical redundancies and be designed to automatically switch around faults in the network. The fiber core of the network will be optically switched and use dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) to run multiple wavelengths of light over a single fiber pair. The network will have flexibility for reconfiguration in the event of a failure and tremendous capacity for future expansion as demand grows. 

The network will support wavelength, SONET, TDM, Ethernet, video, and SAN transport services, as well as provide a 10 Gbps or 40 Gpbs backbone for upper and lower Cape Cod, with redundant and diverse access to Brockton and Providence.

The design will provide for multiplexing of lower rate services onto higher rate trunks. The system will allow the underlying transport wavelengths of light to be diversely routed between any two nodes. While 1Gbps, 2.5Gbps, and 10Gbps are the transmission rates of the most commonly requested services today, the network will scalable to 40Gbps and 100 Gbps per wave.

The system will include a regional area network (RAN) for the municipalities, schools and libraries of Cape Cod and the Islands (Municipal RAN) using fiber strands from the OpenCape retained fibers, the microwave links to Martha’s Vineyard, and leased fiber (leased by OpenCape) capacity to Nantucket.  On Cape Cod the RAN will provide a minimum 1Gbps circuit from each of the fifteen Cape Cod towns’ hubs to the OpenCape Regional Collocation Center and be upgraded over time as demand dictates.  Municipal, school, and library Anchor Institutions will be physically connected to the municipalities’ hub with fiber optics and switching.  The logical design will permit and establish multiple virtual local area networks (VLAN) on the Municipal RAN to accommodate the many linkages required among these groups.

Each municipality will have the ability to operate independently of the adjoining municipalities yet still have the ability to access local, county, regional, state, and federal resources. To that end, the design will not be dependent on the participation of any one municipality. The loss of one or many Municipal RAN locations due to catastrophic damage will not affect the remaining Municipal RAN locations in so much as the fiber path(s) remain intact.

The Municipal RAN is designed to provide redundant connections from the optical and microwave network to each of the 15 Cape Cod municipalities east of the Cape Cod Canal. The municipalities’ Municipal RAN switch will be connected to self-healing, redundant connectivity. This coupled with Class-of-Service (CoS) priority queuing will allow emergency traffic access to available bandwidth first.

The sequence and timing of construction of specific sites and route segments will be dependent upon CapeNet’s receipt of drawings, design and engineering documents from UC/Synergetic in a timely fashion, the completion of make-ready by the utility companies, the receipt of licenses and permits from the Right of Way Owners such as would permit Contractor to proceed with aerial and underground construction respectively, summer road restrictions and traffic on the Cape, and weather conditions. It is expected that construction of the entire network will be completed by not later than January 31, 2013.